You have found a candidate you like and you are excited to extend an offer. As you type up the particulars (performance expectations, start date, comp, etc.) you feel your hands start to sweat. “He said that our comp was in range, didn’t he? She gave me a ballpark of what she currently brings in so this isn’t a haircut, right? Maybe I can save $5k here just in case they ask for a relocation package. Do we have a relocation package? That’s in the employee handbook. When’s the last time I looked at the employee handbook? Do we even have one?”

You button it up and press send (usually at the end of the day and far too often on a Friday!). You are 90% positive they will accept but that 10% sure is keeping you from being able to pay attention at your kiddos soccer game on Saturday morning. Sunday rolls around and you still haven’t heard back. “It’s the weekend so they probably aren’t online, good for them.” Work/life balance yada yada. Monday morning and still nothing. Should I call? No, then I look desperate. But I am desperate!

by Matt Thomas

Something is off. You know it and they know it. Performance expectations are not being met. Customers are frustrated. Other team members are cautiously expressing their concerns. Your gut tells you it’s not going to get better, but your ego believes if any manager can turn this around it’s you!

Terminating an employee is expensive. It usually ends up costing a business 50% of the former employee’s salary. Lost production, resources invested in training, and more. If they are client-facing, you risk losing credibility with the customer or negatively impacting their experience with your company. Even when it’s the right move, letting someone go usually has some negative impact on the culture. At a minimum, it’s deflating.

Unfortunately, I have had to terminate dozens of employees over the past 10 years. I’ve fumbled this process more than once. On some occasions reacting strongly in the present moment and terminating too quickly. On others, giving second, third, and fourth chances in hopes that they would turn things around. Letting someone go isn’t an exact science, but there are a few principles that can help us know what to do, when to do it, and how to do it.